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The Patriots and the strange story of Ernie Adams

Discussion in 'NFL Zone' started by honyock, Jul 4, 2013.

  1. honyock

    honyock Well-Known Member

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    With the days inching by till training camp, here's a story I've wanted to post here for awhile. It's about Ernie Adams, a Patriots employee and Bill Belichick's trusted advisor who may be the most mysterious figure in the history of the NFL. This may have been talked about here in the past but I don't remember seeing anything about him, and his story is too weird and fascinating, and probably too important to the Patriots success, to not get a little attention.

    I heard about Adams briefly on a talk show awhile back and have been reading about him on and off for the past few months. I have no fondness for New England, but his story is so strange that I've gotten intrigued with the guy

    He's listed by the Pat's as their "Director of Football Research", but beyond that and a small bio, no one knows much about him or knows exactly what he does for the organization. Not players, coaches, apparently from office personnel, team beat writers, no one except Adams and Belichick. The players call him "Coach Adams", but when asked about him, they have no idea what he does. As safety Patrick Chung said, “No clue what he does. No clue at all. Maybe he’s an undercover genius.” Once during a Patriots team film session, a player put up a slide with Adams picture. The caption read, "What does this man do?" Everyone laughed, but no one had an answer.

    Two things are almost for sure, he's as close to a human computer as the league may have ever seen, and he completely has Belichick's trust and ear. As an ESPN article about him put it, "On game day, he's in the press box with a headset on, running numbers, computing percentages and, some around the league insinuate, overseeing more insidious operations." He reportedly came up with the game plan to neutralize Marshall Faulk in Super Bowl XXXVI. Another snippet from the ESPN article, "After the Spygate incident, one former Patriots insider said a videotape of signals wouldn't help the other 31 teams nearly as much because they wouldn't have Ernie Adams there to quickly analyze and process the information."

    A little more from the ESPN article: "A longtime NFL watcher compares him to "Q", James Bond's master of espionage and gadgetry. Author David Halberstam called him "Belichick's Belicheck". No other team has anyone like him on it's payroll. And yet, save for football insiders, he is virtually unknown."

    He and Belichick have known each other since prep school, where Adams was already obsessed with film study and the ins and outs of game strategy and tactics. Adams went on to Northwestern and starting as a student manager, and so impressed the coaches with his knowledge of film, that by his sophomore year was an assistant coach. He later coached for the Giants and convinced Ray Perkins to hire his friend Belichick.

    He was already becoming a mystery to those around him - he'd just study film all day long, no one knew anything else about him. One thing that his players said, from his first "coaching" stop on, was that he could consistently see and notice things on film that no one else could find, and that his knowledge about the game was savant-like. He knew everything. This was already apparent even when he was still a freshman at Northwestern.

    He left the Giants and went to work on Wall Street as bond trader. No one knows who he worked for, what he did or how successful he was, although the persistent rumor was that he made his fortune there. When Belichick was hired as HC by Clevelend, he brought Adams back to the NFL as his…well, his something.

    No one there knew what he did. Browns owner Art Modell once said, "I'll pay anyone here $10,000 if they can tell me what Ernie Adams does." When Belichek was fired, he went back to the investment world until Belichick brought him back when the Patriots hired him as HC.

    Adams is rumored to have huge power on personnel decisions, and draft day strategy. He supposedly runs the team value chart for trades. But no one really knows.

    He is in New England's coaching box during games, and is reportedly in direct communication with Belichick via headset. It's been rumored at times that he's the only person in Belichick's hear during games. But no one really knows.

    He's been rumored to have been involved with, or the mastermind of, or the tape-dissector and analyst behind Spygate, the one person who crunched all the tape and info and fed strategy to Belichick. But no one really knows. He's been credited with the Patriots ability to make halftime and in-game adjustments.

    Adams is almost completely in the shadows. He's only given two interviews in is football career, once to a Northwestern alumni magazine and once to an author who was writing a bio on Belichick. People around the team say he is the one person that Belichick has absolute trust in, and both are notoriously secretive, so the real story of what he does will probably never be told.

    He reportedly has a photographic memory and is the answer man for Patriots players on any questions about league rules, league policy, league history, anything NFl or football related, all questions answered on the spot, no "I'll look it up and get back to you". He and Belichick have been at the forefront of reaching out beyond the football world to bring in mathematicians and statisticians to determine when to throw challenge flags, go for it or punt on 4th down, or when to try two point conversions. The stories are that Belichick consults with him during games on these on-the-spot decisions (as an example, when Belichick decided to try to convert a late-game fourth down in a big regular season game against the Colts a few years back that famously got stopped short).

    After the Spygate incident, one former Patriots insider said a videotape of signals wouldn't help the other 31 teams nearly as much because they wouldn't have Ernie Adams there to quickly analyze and process the information.

    There is much more online. Here is the ESPN article, which is very good and the most detailed look into his life and his role with the team that I've found: http://sports.espn.go.com/espn/eticket/story?page=adams

    and another good article by Les Carpenter of Yahoo Sports: http://sports.yahoo.com/nfl/news?slug=lc-carpenter_ernie_adams_patriots_adviser_belichick020212
    dwmyers likes this.
  2. burmafrd

    burmafrd Well-Known Member

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    considering BB runs things like it was an espionage organization (security, keeping a low profile, etc) having someone like Adams is to be expected.
  3. dwmyers

    dwmyers Well-Known Member

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    Ok, you have this prep school buddy so smart that he talked his way into coaching at Northwestern as a sophomore, whom you pulled away from a stock investment consulting company to help you coach? He's a literal "Computer who Wore Tennis Shoes", and people need to know exactly what he does?

    Oh yes, did you actually read Halberstam's bio of Belichick, where Adams knew about Bill's background, because Adams had read his dad's book and admired the work that he did? That Bill was a minor celebrity in their little circle as a result (son of the famous Steve Belichick)?

    I suspect, in all honesty, that "Director of Football Research" means exactly that, that he's a kind of Bill James on steroids. And why would he not talk about what he does?

    From this article: http://blogs.hbr.org/cs/2011/08/success_comes_from_better_data.html

    comes this quote by Daryl Morey, the analytics driven GM of the Houston Rockets (a former STATs Inc, employee, btw):

  4. honyock

    honyock Well-Known Member

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    I don't know if people need to know what he does, but there are some in the NFL world who are/were sure curious about what he does. Including a former owner and some players and coaches on his own teams.

    I didn't read Halberstram's bio of Belichick. And yes, it sounds like the fact that Adams had read Belichick's dad's book was part of what prompted Adams to first approach Belichick. From there, two secretive and obsessive guys hit it off as friends.

    I'd suspect that neither he nor Belichick talk about it, at least in part to maintain some kind of competitive edge that they believe they have over others in the league. From what I've read, they were ahead of the curve in bringing some analysis from the mathematics and statistics world to the NFL. It sounds like they have their own approach or system for valuing draft picks and draft-day trades that may differ from league norms. If I were them, I wouldn't talk about it either.
  5. erod

    erod Well-Known Member

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    Modern day Gil Brandt.
  6. Rogah

    Rogah Well-Known Member

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    It's nowhere near as mysterious as the article suggests, and I doubt any of those rumors are true (like the idea that he is the only one in direct communication with Belichick during games). His role was discussed in Michael Holley's book War Room. He is simply a guy who knows a tremendous amount about football, strategy and history. He's like Bill Belichick's Bench Coach. The only thing noteworthy about him is that, unlike just about everyone else in the NFL, he shuns the spotlight.
  7. joseephuss

    joseephuss Well-Known Member

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    I always thought that Mike Martz was the one who neutralized Marshall Faulk in that game.
  8. Yakuza Rich

    Yakuza Rich Well-Known Member

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    They believe he was the guy that deciphered all of the signals during SpyGate because he's like a walking Encyclopedia of football knowledge and strategy. He's not quite a Bill James type. He seems to be more in place as a soundboard for Belichick and a guy that will research ideas that he comes up or ideas that Belichick comes up with and give him the final synopsis on what he thinks. So it's not all about data and crunching data for him.






    YR
  9. Eskimo

    Eskimo Well-Known Member

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    I don't know what advantage they think they have in draft analysis. If you look over their hit rate over the last 10 years it doesn't really look all that impressive at all.

    They have been good at amassing draft picks and that seems mostly to relate to them being willing to trade assets for hugely over-inflated values to other teams in the league. Why other teams give up so much for what usually turns out to be a slightly above average player continues to perplex me. How did they get so much for Seymour? There are other examples. I will give them credit for not overpaying players and for being willing to move on before players majorly decline from age - they passed on Welker this offseason at age 32, for example. I do wonder sometimes if Bellichek gets a lot of credit mostly because of how good Tom Brady has been as a QB. You combine his play at QB with Belichek's smarts as a DC and you have a pretty potent combination but they still haven't won a SB in quite a long time now.

    I do admire the success Belichek has had but still wonder how much of his edge was related to spying (haven't won a SB since) and lucking out into Tom Brady - when you pass on that guy 5 times and then take him in the 6th you've lucked out on him because you had no idea how good he was going to be.
  10. Yakuza Rich

    Yakuza Rich Well-Known Member

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    I think Belichick's strength has always been that he's understood how the game evolves from a schematic standpoint and how to build a team around those evolving schematics as well as understanding dynamics of team building (age of players, etc) in the offseason.

    There is no doubt in my mind that SpyGate helped the Patriots tremendously. Read this book and you'll understand it even more: http://www.amazon.com/Spygate-Untold-Story-Bryan-OLeary/dp/0985467002

    What's particularly interesting is how the Patriots defense has fallen off since SpyGate. I don't feel SpyGate itself helped the defense, but I get the feeling that Belichick was utilizing other ways to cheat. One of the chief complaints during SpyGate was how the opposing team's radio signals would suddenly go out during key points in games against the Pats in Foxboro. It seems too brazen to be true, but this is the same group that disguised camera operators....placed them on the other team's sideline...and recorded their signals. And they even did it to the Jets, whom were coached by Eric Mangini. My guess is that they thought Mangini didn't know about it and he did and that's how they got caught.

    Logic dictates that the Pats got a giant advantage off of SpyGate because:

    1. Belichick isn't the type of person to do something for no reason

    2. The destroying of evidence by the league points to a massive coverup.

    To me, the brilliance of Belichick was that he never rested on his laurels during SpyGate and never let his ego think that he had the magic touch. I suspect that if other teams were able to pull off SpyGate, they would not have won as many Super Bowls as the Pats because they would start to think that they have the magic touch. Instead, Belichick used the Pats success to his advantage. Teams started to think that Patriots players and coaches had the 'Patriot way' and started to go after these players and coaches. This allowed the Pats to fleece teams in trades and try and build themselves around coaches and players that were benefitting more from SpyGate than their pure ability to coach and play.

    That's how they ended up getting guys like Welker and Moss for basically fish heads and rice.







    YR
  11. ABQCOWBOY

    ABQCOWBOY Moderator Staff Member

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  12. Rogah

    Rogah Well-Known Member

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    I'm sure it's got nothing to do with the fact that he had 3 potential Hall of Famers on his defense in the early 00's and since then has had no one.
    No offense, but you obviously have no clue what spygate was about.
  13. Rogah

    Rogah Well-Known Member

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    Belichick would rather get rid of a guy a couple years too early instead of a couple years too late. It's tough to argue with his record. Whom have the Patriots gotten rid of that went on to have success elsewhere? Maybe Vinatieri, but I'm not sure he counts. They took heat when the got rid of McGinest, Seymour, Moss, Givens, Watson, Bledsoe, Law, Samuel, and now Welker. Obviously the jury is still out on Welker but none of those other guys really came back to hurt 'em.
  14. Yakuza Rich

    Yakuza Rich Well-Known Member

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    Put the Patriots pom-poms down for a second and prove me where I'm wrong.




    YR
  15. Yakuza Rich

    Yakuza Rich Well-Known Member

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    Seymour, Samuel and to some extent Law came back to hurt them. Seymour was really good for the Raiders and the Patriots defense regressed quite a bit since after 2006. Law was aging and moderately effective when he left which was better than what most of his replacements provided.





    YR
  16. Rogah

    Rogah Well-Known Member

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    You're so incredibly ignorant of what happened that I wouldn't know where to begin.
  17. Rogah

    Rogah Well-Known Member

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    Losing Ty Law didn't hurt them one bit since he was coming off of injuries and was too old. Seymour and Samuel certainly had decent seasons after leaving but like I said, the Belichick way is to let a guy go a year or 2 too soon instead of a year or 2 too late. That's what he did with Welker. I expect Welker will have a very good 2013 season, but he's at that age where his production will drop significantly and quickly.
  18. Yakuza Rich

    Yakuza Rich Well-Known Member

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    Weak.





    YR
  19. Yakuza Rich

    Yakuza Rich Well-Known Member

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    Samuel has averaged over 5 interceptions per season since leaving the Patriots He has also made the Pro Bowl 3 times after leaving the Pats. Seymour was excellent with the Raiders and it is widely considered that the Raiders got the better of the deal, even by Pats fans and reporters. Seymour has also made the Pro Bowl in 2 out of the 4 seasons with the Raiders (and should have made it his first year with the Raiders).

    It came back to hurt them because their replacements were much worse in a defense that has been mediocre since 2007. Saying 'well, they get rid of these guys before they get too old' doesn't excuse the fact that they were far better than Belichick's replacements.





    YR
  20. Rogah

    Rogah Well-Known Member

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    See, here's your problem: you are obviously woefully unaware that these decisions are not made in a vacuum. If they chose to give Samuel the ridiculous amount of money he wanted, they would have had to cut 2 star players. Sure they could've paid Samuel but then which of the following 2 players do they get rid of? Matt Light, Randy Moss, Wes Welker, Tom Brady, Vince Wilfork.

    They probably could have cut just 1 player if that 1 player was Brady, otherwise which 2 of those guys do you cut so you can keep Samuel?

    The Iggles are the ones who signed him. You must think they're geniuses! How many championships did Samuel help bring to the City of Brothery Love?

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